Experts Say Sea-Level Projections Way Low Amid Global Warming

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Global warming could cause sea levels to rise much higher than previously predicted, experts say in a new paper.

A paper entitled Twenty-first century sea-level rise could exceed IPCC projections for strong-warming futures,” says massive melting ice sheets, such as those Greenland and Antarctica, will cause sea levels to exceed projections by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the current pace.

A worst-case scenario could mean hundreds of thousands of square miles of coastline becomes uninhabitable and forces more than 100 million people worldwide to move  elsewhere by the end of the century.

The most recent IPCC report said the median sea-level rise by the end of the 21st Century could range from 16 inches to 2 1/2 feet, depending on the extent of warming experienced.

Sea level has risen an average of about 10 inches globally since the late 1800s, with amounts varying from region to region.

Oceanographer John Englander and global climate scientist Robert Corell contributed to the new 21st Century paper, which argues the IPCC assessment.

“With the next [IPCC] report now being prepared for release in 2021-22, our intent was to make the case to the IPCC leadership to explain the reality of Antarctic potential melting better, as it might significantly add to sea level rise this century,” Englander told CBS News.

The expansion of warmer water was the biggest factor in sea-level rise during the last century. But now and going forward, melting of ice sheets constitutes a greater proportion.

CBS News said if all the ice in Greenland and Antarctica melted, sea level would rise 210 feet. That’s to make a point, not scare people.

The threat of extreme sea-level rise is a top concern for national security experts because the displacement of people poses significant risks to international security and stability.

Well known glaciologists and sea-level rise experts Martin Siegert, Richard Alley, and Eric Rignot joined Englander and Corell in contributing to the new 21st Century paper.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.